people riding bikes in a race

November 09, 2021

Touch of Nature hosts Catalyst Mountain Bike Festival Nov. 19-21

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The third and final race of the popular Catalyst Race Series at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center is expanded into a Catalyst Mountain Bike Festival Nov. 19-21.

The race is at 11 a.m. Nov. 20 and registration is underway. The deadline to sign up is Nov. 17.

The event is at one of the Midwest’s premier new mountain biking trail systems, located at the Touch of Nature Multiuse Trail System, about eight miles south of SIU Carbondale off of Giant City Road. The three-day festival promises a fun weekend and serves as a fundraiser to help continue the trail project expansion.

Several options available

A variety of packages are available for competitors as well as non-racers. The basic weekend package for competitors ages 18 and older is $85 and includes race registration, vehicle campsite, post-race meal ticket, post-race activities, a T-shirt and parking pass. For junior racers ages 9-17, registration is $55 and includes the same things minus the parking pass, while  child racers ages eight and younger pay $15 and receive the same benefits as junior racers. Participants can also pay a flat registration fee to race..

Weekend packages for non-racers are $40 for adults and youths ages 9-17 include vehicle campsite and post-race meal and activities. Non-racers ages eight years old and younger can participate for free. Separate meal packages for additional meals are also available for an added cost.

 The festival is designed to give participants a chance to get acquainted with the facility have a good time.  Activities will include a “Huffy” toss game, where participants see how far they can throw an old bicycle. There are bonus points if you sing or dance while throwing the bike.

To register or find more information about the schedule, visit

Viewers welcome

Spectators are also welcome to attend the race. Parking for riders and visitors will be available in the upper and lower parking lots at Camp 2. Additional parking will also be offered at the main trailhead near the entrance to Touch of Nature. Viewing locations are located along the course and spectators will be able to walk to those spots from the main trailhead parking lot.

The SIU Credit Union and River Radio Group of Southern Illinois are community partners for the Catalyst Racing Series and sponsors include Shawnee Trails, Phoenix Cycles, Francis Brummer, Sabens Martial Arts Academy, Murphysboro Smile Design, The Joos Cap, Blue Sky Vineyards, St. Nicholas Brewing Company, Honey Stinger, Elevate Therapy and Performance, Kuat Bike Racks, Orange Seal Cycling and Wolf Tooth Components.

Just the beginning

The first phase of the trail system, a project in the works for several years, is now in use and includes 12 miles of multiuse natural surface track trail. The trails opened in May for bikers, hikers, runners and walkers. When completed the trail system will encompass about 30 miles of stacked looped trails, adult and child terrain parks, an event center area and other features.

For more information about Touch of Nature and the trail system, visit, call 618-453-1121 or email